First West Credit Union

First West Credit Union

April 26, 2011 09:00 ET

First West Credit Union Exceeds 2010 Expectations

B.C.'s third-largest credit union produces best return on assets in province with new multi-brand business model

SURREY, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - April 26, 2011) -

  • Total assets increased $400.2 million, or 8.6%, to $5.1 billion; return on assets before tax was 0.89%, the highest among major credit unions in B.C.
  • Net interest income increased 37.3% to $129 million
  • Loans to members rose $399.8 million, or 9.8%, to $4.5 billion
  • Deposits from members went up $241.5 million, or 5.8%, to $4.4 billion
  • Over $1 million was invested in building healthier communities

B.C.'s third-largest credit union today announced its results for the full fiscal year ended December 31, 2010. These results include the highest return on asset percentage among major credit unions in British Columbia, demonstrating the strength of First West's unique multi-brand operating model.

"We're reinventing the traditional credit union model," says First West CEO Launi Skinner, who was recently named one of Canada's Top 100™ most powerful women by the Women's Executive Network. "It's exciting to see First West's financial performance already proving the value of our distinctive strategy. Our goal is to create a network or family of like-minded credit unions operating their own brands under First West," she says. "First West's partner credit unions gain the economic advantages of collaboration, including a better branch network, better diversification of risk and improved efficiency, while still being able to act local, which is crucial to what it means to be a credit union."

First West formed in January 2010 when Penticton-based Valley First Credit Union merged with Langley-based Envision Financial. Unlike most newly-merged credit unions, First West chose to continue operating its two distinct Envision Financial and Valley First brands in their autonomous regions, which in total comprises a 37-branch network.

"With a multi-brand model, credit unions that join First West are able to keep their names and stay true to their roots with the same local leadership teams, local decision-making and continued local connections to the communities they're part of," says Skinner.

First West Credit Union delivered the following results for 2010:

Assets: Total assets for 2010 were $5.1 billion, up 8.6% from $4.7 billion in 2009. First West's return on assets before taxes increased from 0.81% to 0.89%, generating the highest return on assets among major B.C. credit unions.

Income: Net interest income in 2010 increased 37.3% to $129 million. Net interest income as a percentage of average assets increased from 2.04% in 2009 to 2.65% in 2010, one of the highest in the British Columbia credit union system.

Retail Banking: Loans to members rose by $399.8 million, or 9.8%, to $4.5 billion. The increase was primarily the result of growth in residential mortgages from the reopening of Envision Financial's mortgage brokerage centre and competitively priced products. Deposits from members in 2010 increased by $241.5 million, or 5.8%, to $4.4 billion. Additionally, non-interest income grew in two key areas in 2010: Wealth Management revenues increased 25% to $7.9 million and Automotive Financing revenues improved 36% to $13.5 million.

Business Banking: First West's increased financial capacity resulted in new business from large institutional accounts: Valley First gained a significant business deposit account from the City of Penticton, while Envision secured a full banking relationship with the District of Mission.

Operations: Operating efficiency was 79.5%, an improvement of 30 basis points from 2009. The improvement resulted from a 15.6% increase in revenue (net interest income and non-interest income combined) while operating expense increased only 14.8%. After adjusting for one-time merger costs related to establishing First West in 2010, operating efficiency further improved to 78.8%. First West also paid dividends of $1.3 million to members, bringing total dividends paid over the last 10 years to $14.4 million.

"First West's strong financial performance reinforces the strength of our operating model and demonstrates that we are well positioned to implement our strategy," says Tom Webster, CFO, First West. "In our first year of operating as First West, we have surpassed our merger business-plan expectations. In 2011, we will continue to prudently steward the financial assets entrusted to us by our members while striving to lead the industry in financial performance."

Corporate Citizenship: First West contributed more than $1 million of its operating profits to its local communities in the form of scholarships, sponsorships and donations in 2010. For example, in the Fraser Valley, Envision partnered with the Surrey Rent Bank to combat community homelessness. In the Okanagan, Similkameen and Thompson regions, Valley First's "Feed the Valley" initiative raised more than $150,000 and 5,000 kilograms of food donations for local food banks.

More information on First West's financial and operational results is available in our 2010 annual report available online at: http://www.firstwestcu.ca/content/annual-report.

Annual General Meeting

First West's AGM will be held in the two regions that Envision Financial and Valley First serve:

Envision Financial Region
Fraser Valley/Lower Mainland
May 9, 2011
Newlands Golf and Country Club
21025 48th Ave., Langley, B.C.
Registration: 6:30 p.m.
Meeting: 7:30 p.m.
Valley First Region
Okanagan, Similkameen and Thompson
May 11, 2011
Lakeside Resort, Convention Centre and Casino
21 Lakeshore Drive, Penticton, B.C.
Registration: 6:30 p.m.
Meeting: 7:30 p.m.

About First West Credit Union

First West Credit Union offers members the financial strength, comprehensive product selection and extended branch network of a large financial institution while maintaining local brand identities and a unique grassroots approach to service. First West is British Columbia's third-largest credit union with $6.2 billion in assets under administration, 167,000 members and 1,150 employees. It operates 37 branches throughout the province under the Envision Financial and Valley First brands. For more information on First West Credit Union, visit firstwestcu.ca.

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